118 Lamorna to Porthcurno to Land’s End

Lamorna Cove is, I am sure, a beautiful place. But this morning it is shrouded in fog. I look back across the cove, trying to make out the route that I walked yesterday. The path winds treacherously above the shoreline. In the distance is the craggy mass of Carn-du.

Looking back to Carn-du, Lamorna Cove, Ruth's coastal walk

I set off towards Lamorna point and, initially, the path on this side of the cove is easy – wide concrete. Then it gets steeper. I am scrambling over rocks, slippery with moisture from the mist. My trusty poles slide and skid over the rocks. I feel worried and uneasy. I use my hands, scrambling up and down, hoping I haven’t lost the path.

Tater-du Lighthouse, in the mist. Ruth Livingstone

Eventually I find myself walking along a flat track. This is better. But there are masses of bushes on either side and I could be miles from the coast. I have no idea where I am.

I see a light house below me – rising like a ghostly castle out of the fog. Good. I check my map. This is the Tater-du lighthouse – a recently constructed lighthouse as these things go, built in 1965 and modernised 15 years ago.

The poor weather makes me very resentful. The day before yesterday my walk was ruined by pouring rain. Today it is ruined by thick mist. I know this section of the coast line would look very beautiful in clear weather. It is just a shame I can’t see any of the views. I make out rocks below me and pass above a series of craggy coves. Zawn Gamper, Chough Zawn, Boscawen Cliff – as marked on my map. Cornish place names sound both very foreign and wonderfully exotic.

Boscawen Point, Ruth's coast walking

I am walking along the top of Boscawen Cliff and looking across a wide cove – St Loy’s Cove – towards Merthen Point in the distance. There appears to be a beach running along the other side of the bay – and my heart lifts. Perhaps I will be able to walk along beside the sea?

Merthen Point, RUth on the South West Coast Path in fog

The path takes me down into a lovely wooded valley. This is St Loy’s Cove. A farm-house is the only building marked on my map but I see a few houses are dotted among the trees. Very pretty but very isolated.

I head downwards and emerge onto the beach. No sand. The ‘beach’ consists of a mass of large pebbles – more like mini-boulders than shingle. It is not possible to walk along here easily and, in any case, my map indicates the official path follows the cliffs above.

St Loys Cove - boulder beach, Ruth walking the coastline

I climb up through the trees, following the route of the South West Coast Path

slippery slopes, climbing up from St Loys Cove, Ruth's coast walkThe path is overgrown with tree roots in places. But these are helpful. They form ‘rungs’ – as if I am climbing up a ladder. I am reminded of my walk from Lyme Regis to Seaton, where the path through the land-slip valley was similarly overgrown with tree roots.

I meet a couple coming down into St Loy’s Cove. They are the first people I have met since I left Lamorna Cove.

But the scramble up the valley is worth it. I get to the top and find the mist is clearing. I am walking along an easy footpath running along the top of Trevedran Cliff – heading slightly upwards, towards Penberth.

Wild flowers line the path. The cliffs roll down towards the sea far below. The view is stunning. This is more like it. Glorious!

Trevedran Cliff, Ruth walking the coast in Cornwall

I meet a walking group coming towards me and stand aside to let them pass. The group members look very hot and are walking in a long straggling line. I wonder why they are finding this easy walk so difficult?

 Porthguarnon Cove, Ruth's coastal walk, SWCP

I reach the brow of the hill and suddenly understand why the walking group was huffing and puffing. In front of me there is a narrow valley. The land falls away, dropping down steeply almost to sea level.

Checking my map, I can see this is Porthguarnon Cove. The sea below looks wonderfully clear but the little ‘beach’ is strewn with granite boulders instead of soft sand.

Across the valley I can see where the coast path winds up the opposite slope. It looks steep – but there is no other way round. I make my way down – zigzagging. And then climb all the way back up the other side.

After this challenging ascent, there follows an easy stroll down into Penberth Cove. This is an accessible cove – the village of Treen and a convenient car park lie a little further up the valley – so, for the first time, I meet a number of people strolling around. But what a lovely place it is. Fishing boats are pulled up on the little shore. I take masses of photographs.

Penberth Cove, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast of Cornwall

Climbing up out of Penberth Cove, I make my way across Cribba Head and see a rocky headland in front of me. This is the site of an old hill fort and, although the official path sticks to the main cliffs, I am tempted to head out and explore the point. I see other people scrambling about and another walker sitting on the rocks, silhouetted against the bright sea.

Near Logan Rock, Ruth walking the SWCP

But time is passing and it is nearly one o’clock. I decide I can’t spare the time for this deviation. Shame.

Logan Rock, photograph by Ruth Livingstone

There is a ‘rocking stone’ on the headland, known as Logan Rock . Unfortunately, a group of seamen dislodged the stone back in the nineteenth century. They were forced to restore it to its original position and it still rocks, but not as easily as it once did.

I don’t get to test the rockability of the stone, but I do get to take its photograph. It is the flat one on the top of the pinnacle to the far left of this photograph.

Onwards. I am meeting my husband for lunch at Porthcurno. Ahead I can see another cove and a sandy beach and houses on the slope above. This must be Porth Curno Bay.

Across the bay, perched on the far cliff, I can see some sort of building, right on the edge of the slope. I realise it must be the famous open-air theatre at Minack Point.

Porth Curno, Ruth on the South West Coast Path

Walking along the path I come across people strolling. This is a popular area – Porth Curno bay is one of the prettiest beaches in this part of Cornwall and the theatre is famous.

ohn in front of telegraph cable monument, Ruth Livingstone, Porthcurno

My husband is walking to meet me. He kindly takes my rucksack and we enjoy this section of the walk, although I do explain to him that this is the easiest stretch of todays trek. I am not sure if he believes me.

We come across this strange white pyramid. It is a monument marking the establishment of an important submarine telegraph cable back in 1870 – an important communications event as it provided a direct telegraph link between England and India.

Below us is a secluded beach, separate from Porthcurno Cove’s main sands. I look down and wonder if there is a craze for flesh coloured swimming costumes. Then I realise. It is a nudist beach.

Above Porthcurno beach, Ruth walking the coast, Cornwall

After lunch in Porthcurno, we walked up the other side of the cove and explored the area around the open air Minack Theatre. There is a flight of incredibly steep steps, linking the theatre to the beach below.

This is a popular area and we had to queue to wait our turn to take each other’s photos in front of this stunning view. The steps lead off down to the left.

From here, we walk westwards along the top of the cliff, dipping down again to go down into the next sandy little cove – Porth Chapel.

Porth Chapel beach, walking around the coast, Ruth Livingstone

The official South West Coast Path is diverted due to landslips – a deviation that would take us far inland. My heart sinks. But somebody has created an alternative path and pinned signs up indicating the route. This prevents a long detour.

Porthgwarra, Ruth walking the coastline of the UK

A mile further along we come to Porthgwarra. This is another scenic cove with a wonderful cave that forms a tunnel, passing straight through a finger of granite cliff and out the other side. We walk through cautiously – it is treacherous underfoot – and emerge on a small landing slip.

My husband takes a photograph of me, sitting on a boulder, in front of the entrance to the tunnel cave.

Lookout station, Gwennap Head, John with Ruth on her coast walk

Beyond Porthgwarra is the headland called Gwennap Head and a small look-out station. The sky is clear and the sun is bright. My husband has forgotten his cap and so decides, without thought of how ridiculous he looks, to wear his sweat shirt on his head.

Gwennap Head directions, Ruth's coastal walk

At the look-out station is a circular waypoint marker. It is only 2.5 miles to Lands End. Yippee! We should be there in an hour.

(In fact, it’s further than 2.5 miles, due to the twists and turns of the path. It takes another two hours before we reach our destination.)

This section of my coastal walk proves to be surprisingly boring. The sea is beautiful and indented by a series of wide bays, but the sun is sinking low and is in our eyes. And I am tiring now – having been walking for over six hours. The land itself is scrubby heathland. The only interesting feature is two strange cones – a tall red one and a squatter black one (the tip of the darker one is just visible to the right of the red one).

Navigation Markers, Gwennap Head, Ruth's coast walk

Later I find out the cones are navigation aids for shipping. As far as I can make out, if you get the two lined up so that the black one is behind the red one – this means you are in serious trouble and about to run into the rocks.

Land’s End is ahead. It looks near. But there always seems to be one last bay to navigate around. Porth Loe, Folly Cove, Zawn Kellys, Pendower, Mill bay.

 Looking to Lands End, Ruth walks the SWCP

The heathland gives way to grazing. These cattle guarded the path and the big black one was definitely a bull (I think).

bulls on South West Coast Path, Ruth's coastal walking

Finally we are nearly there. The sun is low in the west making it difficult to take a photograph of the approach to Land’s End. Instead, I turn back and look across the bays and take a photograph of the coastline we have just walked along.

Looking back from Lands End, Ruth on her coastal walk

We stand on Land’s End. I can’t believe we are actually here – the farthest westward point in England. Out there, across the shining sea, are the treacherous rocks with their lighthouse – the Longships.

The Long Ships, Lands End, photo by Ruth Livingstone

I have brought a little flask of single malt whisky. And some chocolate. We mark the occasion by downing the whisky and enjoying the chocolate. We even manage a double self-portrait.

Celebrations at Lands End, Ruth and John

Land’s End!

Miles walked = 10
Total since beginning = 1,176


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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14 Responses to 118 Lamorna to Porthcurno to Land’s End

  1. patriz2012 says:

    Well done! What a great feeling that must be to reach Lands End. So glad the weather cleared up for you.

  2. mariekeates says:

    A beautiful walk and what a reward to reach Lands End. 🙂

  3. Grant says:

    Well done, I chanced on your blog today and was quickly hooked. I finished a long walk of my own earlier this year from Lands End to John O’Groats a distance for me of 1,194 miles during Spring, which I really enjoyed. From LE I followed the coast as far as Barnstaple. I’ll look forward to following your progress and maybe catch up with earlier posts during the long winter months. Best wishes, Grant

  4. JasonJason says:

    Nice one ruth! Just wanted to add that i’m enjoying your blog and your progress round the coast. Keep up the good work.

  5. PeterTash says:

    Hi Ruth, just wanted to ask if you think any section here is particularly “dangerous”. I want to attempt this route on my own. I am in my mid 20s and do some basic rock-climbing/bouldering and go hiking frequently, but I am always unsure what is meant when route guides say “scrambling”. Are there “alternative routes” near the main routes which I can take if I feel that a “scramble” is too exposed, e.g. by going more inland and then back? Or are the scrambles simple for someone like me?

    • Hi Peter, I am sure you will find this all very, very easy. I am fifty, rather plump and very unfit. If I can do it, anyone can! Of course, I’m not sure what damage the winter storms of 2013/14 did this section of coast line, but the SWCP is well-maintained and so any route diversions are usually very clearly signposted. I’m sure you will be fine and I hope you enjoy your walking 🙂

  6. Kim says:

    Hi Ruth can you tell me the distance from Lamorna to Porthcurno, we are doing it tomorrow just want to make sure we can do it all
    Thanks Kim

    • Hi Kim, I think Lamorna to Porthcurno is 5-6 miles. Most is fairly straightforward, but a few ups-and-downs as you get closer to Porthcurno, if I remember rightly. I’m sure you’ll do it. Hope you have a great day.

  7. That’s it. Plane tickets booked for next April – Lands End to Plymouth for the first stage of my LE-JOG – woohoo!!!

  8. Philip Simpson says:

    Wow, that’s an excellent guide for that stretch of the coast path which I’m planning to do next. I have just completed the walk from Mousehole to Boscawen Point, returning via the steep cliff path through Lamorna. I think I did about 14 miles .

  9. Karen White says:

    How exciting to have reached Land’s End!

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